Billy Donovan recently returned from Prague, where he led the USA men’s U-19 team to a gold medal in the FIBA World Championships. He took some time out today to meet with the media to talk about the experience and give some updates on the team.
Donovan has been away from the team and the campus for about a month going through the FIBA team selection process and tournament. He was able to update us on the status of some current players Wednesday, including Chris Walker’s eligibility.
Walker with work to do
Chris Walker has still has not been cleared by the NCAA to enroll at Florida this summer with the other member of the 2013 recruiting class – Kasey Hill. However, Donovan said that any reports that Hill would not be able to enroll before the season are premature.
“I haven’t heard anything back yet [from the NCAA]. Obviously he isn’t here for Summer B,” Donovan said. “He’s still working on finishing up, however long that’s going to take I’m not sure because, he’s still going to have to go through the clearing house and still get cleared with what all these guys have to go through.”
Walker would only need to enroll at Florida by January to be eligible to play this year but Donovan is hopeful that Walker could be on campus sooner than that.
“Right now, he’s not here,” Donovan said. “We’re hopeful that it will be sooner than later but he’s got some work ahead of him and I think he’s trying really hard to get that all finished.”
As far as a timeline goes for when a final decision will be made about Walker’s status, Donovan was unsure. He and the coaching staff have remained in touch with Walker and say that he is dedicated and working very hard to be able to enroll as soon as possible.
“He may or may not be here for the fall semester. I think the one thing I feel like with Chris, and just talking to him, is that his commitment to Florida and just being here, however long that takes; he wants to make it happen.” Donovan said. “He’s got some things that he still needs to do. The one thing that we’ve tried to explain to him about the work that he’s finishing up, and needs to do, is that he doesn’t need to rush it; he just needs to get it done correctly and the right way. He’s working hard to make sure that happens.”
Eli Carter Status still up in the air
The situation at Rutgers with Mike Rice being caught on video both physically and verbally abusing his players led to Rice’s firing and several players deciding to transfer. One of those players, Eli Carter, chose to attend Florida.
Normally when you transfer from one program to another, the NCCA mandates that you sit out a season. Carter is trying to file an appeal to be granted a waiver, which would allow him to play at Florida this season. The extenuating circumstances at Rutgers would seem to be enough for the NCAA to grant the waiver, but it’s not a situation that Donovan has been very hands on with.
“That’s more right now in Rutgers hands,” Donovan said. “He’s got to apply for that and then go through writing a letter and then submitting that letter to Rutgers. Rutgers also has to submit a letter. Really the people handling all that are Rutgers. I have not been in contact with them at all, I have really stayed out of it. It’s something that Eli and his family need to do.”
Donovan went through a situation with his own son, who transferred to Florida from a division three school, went through the same waiver process but was forced to sit out a year. While the two situations are vastly different, it gave Donovan some perspective on what Carter is going through currently.
“I think there’s a process that he has to go through,” Donovan said. “What ends up happening is the NCAA gives these guys guidelines and some things that they’ve got to talk about in the letter. Then I think Rutgers has to handle it as well. Because there are several guys applying for the waiver, I think Rutgers is going to handle it collectively as one group, so to speak, when they deal with the NCAA.”
Kasey Hill adjusting to college life
One new player who is on campus and is eligible to play in 2013 is Kasey Hill. Hill came to Florida with a big reputation, a lot of expectations and the talent to live up to both.
“I think the biggest thing for him [Hill] is just getting better and getting acclimated to what we’re doing. He’s a very gifted, talented player. He’s got great speed and quickness, he’s a really good passer, but more than anything else, it’s just earning respect inside of our team,” Donovan said. “Patric Young’s a senior now, he was a McDonald’s All-American, Rosario came here as a McDonald’s All-American, Kenny Boyton and I think all those guys would tell you, it’s a whole lot different going from high school to college.”
While Hill continues to adjust to life in college, Donovan did say that he has been going about his business the right way and that will go a long way with his teammates.
“His attitude has been great, he’s been really humble. I think he’s trying to work hard,” Donovan said of his freshman point guard. “He’s coming in as a freshman with no experience, not even a college practice under his belt. Sometimes when guys come in as freshmen they don’t handle that the right way. It’s difficult. And that’s not saying that Kasey needs to take a back seat to anybody, he needs to work but he also needs to understand that sometimes when you have a level of humility and you’re a guy that’s creating chemistry, sometimes that goes a long way inside your team.”
Players on the mend
Will Yeguete and Patric Young have both undergone surgery this offseason. For Yeguete, it was another surgery on his knee to go back in and repair some damaged ligaments that were worked on last season.
Yeguete walked through the press conference today on crutches but is on a steady timetable to return for the season.
“It’s going to be a long road for him [Yeguete] just recovery, just the length of time because of the surgery,” Donovan said. “But in terms of the healing process and him being back and ready to play this year, we feel totally optimistic about that.”
Patric Young also underwent surgery, on his ankle, and he is already back walking around and participating in workouts and team practices.
“He’s been good,” Donovan said of Young. “He’s doing fine [after ankle surgery]. He’s basically healthy now, doing all the workouts.”